Washington, DC, is among the most expensive destinations in the USA, outranked only by a handful of cities. It's therefore important that those moving to Washington negotiate a suitable employment package to offset their expenses. Here are some of the major costs expats can expect to encounter while living in Washington, DC.

Cost of accommodation in Washington DC

Accommodation costs in Washington are high. That said, as the city is home to lots of young professionals and university students, there are several cheaper accommodation options such as studio apartments and house shares on offer for those on a budget.

Where new arrivals choose to live can also impact their rental costs. Living in a neighbourhood outside the city or even in a town on the border of a neighbouring state will hugely decrease their costs. Although they will have to commute to work, it may be worth it for the cheaper housing options outside of Washington DC.

Cost of transport in Washington DC

Luckily, there isn't much need for a car in Washington, especially if living close to the city centre. Most residents opt not to have a car and use public transport or cycle to work instead. The cost of using public transport is based on the day, time and distance travelled, so those travelling long distances at peak travel hours will find themselves shelling out a fair amount to do so. To save on travel costs, it's a good idea to purchase a weekly or monthly travel card.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Washington DC

There are lots of opportunities to enjoy the nightlife, entertainment and eating out in Washington, but prices are high, and these leisure expenses add up over time. That said, for those on a budget or looking to save their hard-earned dollars, there are lots of free cultural attractions available in Washington which can enhance the quality of one's experience without breaking the bank.

Cost of education in Washington DC

Expats relocating to Washington with children will also need to factor in the cost of schooling. While expat children are eligible to attend public schools, many expat parents choose to send their children to private or international schools. Fees at these schools can be high, so parents would be wise to double-check that their budget can accommodate this cost.

Cost of living in Washington DC chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Washington, DC, in May 2023.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 2,400

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,900

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 4,900

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 3,400


Eggs (dozen)

USD 4.40

Milk (1 litre)


Rice (1kg)

USD 4.40

Loaf of white bread

USD 3.15

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 11.80

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 11

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 10

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2.45



Bottle of beer (local)

USD 7.50

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 100


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

USD 0.18

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

USD 55

Basic monthly utilities (includes electricity, water and refuse)

USD 165


Taxi rate per km

USD 1.35

Bus fare in the city centre (one way)

USD 2.75

Gasoline/petrol (per litre)

USD 0.99

Expat Health Insurance

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If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.

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